Pub Rants

Four Months Too Late

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STATUS: I’m on vacation so I’m enjoying myself. I went to lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nada

When I’m out of the office during the work week, I always call in to check messages—just in case an editor tries to reach me by phone instead of by email. Sure enough, an editor had left a message so I got in touch with her via my mobile phone. There’s always a little bit of work that needs to be attended to—even on vacation.

But there was yet another voicemail for me. It was from a person who had equeried me back in early July, had never received a response and was now calling, four months later, to see if maybe it had been spam blocked.

Ah, a good moment to be educational I think (and if you truly believe that was my first thought, I’ve got some great property to sell 50 miles west of Naples, Florida…)

Always check the agency website first. Some agents only respond to email queries if they are interested. All others go unanswered. Or, many agencies have an FAQ section on the website with the answer to this question, as I do.

For example, on the Nelson Literary Agency website, it says quite clearly that we respond in 5 to 10 days to queries, sometimes it may take longer. It’s not going to take four months longer. There’s even an FAQ for the problem of not receiving a response from us.


If you’ve sent a query four months ago and didn’t receive a reply and you know the agency does respond to all email queries, what does your common sense recommend you do?

a. Call the agency and ask if we remember reading your query four months ago and did it get spam blocked


b. Simply assume the query was lost or the response not received and simply resend the query by email

Oh, good readers, this politely ranting agent would like to suggest answer “b.”

8 Responses

  1. Tawna Fenske said:

    The idea of telephoning an agent at all makes me nervous enough to wet myself, unless the agent in question had previously professed undying love for every word I ever scribble on a gum wrapper for all of eternity. Even then, telephone would not be my first choice for communication.

    Hope you’re enjoying your vacation, Kristin. Rest well!


  2. Kimber An said:

    This poor writer may have just been too confused and anxious to get her facts right on what to do with the Nelson agency in particular. Every agency has different preferences and guidelines. A writer never knows if she’s going to be politely responded to or treated like annoying crap. The query process can be a frustrating one for the new writer. I always vote for giving the person the benefit of the doubt and as much empathy as I can.

  3. Shelli Stevens said:

    I’d rather break my arm than have to call an agent and find out about my query. That’s some scary stuff! 🙂 I’d just slink away and assume the worst. LOL.

    Have a great vacation!

  4. Janny said:

    Speaking as one who’s actually called agencies–both in response to phone messages asking me to do so, and on my own, just to check on something–I vote for “c”: Call the agency with a brief, polite inquiry…but don’t wait four months to do it!

    The idea that any of us should be shaking-in-our-shoes afraid to call an agency, to me, is ludicrous. Yes, agents are busy. So are the rest of us. Yes, they can’t spend their lives on the phone with inquiring potential clients. Neither can the clients in question spend their lives on the phone. And yes, some people will abuse the privilege of calling if they’re given that option. But all of us have people who interrupt our lives for various reasons, some of which are not very important…but that’s a cost of doing business with people.

    I vote with giving the newbie the benefit of the doubt. If he or she keeps calling every week after this, however, then hang ’em.


  5. An Aspiring Writer said:

    What this tells me is that this particular writer didn’t keep good track of her submissions and queries. If one plans to be a career writer, knowing guidelines for whomever you query is crucial. This one obviously knew she sent a query to the agency, but didn’t make good enough note of it to recognize that phone calls are not welcome. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing an agency or publisher that welcomes phone calls.

    Where I don’t think she was being intentionally rude, the writer did demonstrate a lack of professionalism and research into whom she had queried. In Kristin’s place, no matter how good the property, I would take this as a hint that this particular writer doesn’t always follow instructions, and that could make for a rocky relationship with an agent or editor.

    Lesson learned … know the guidelines, read the fine print, and don’t call unless returning a call.

  6. Blue Jester said:

    I’ve waited four months before, but only for short fiction and because their website said it can take that long for a resposne…heck I’m still waiting…and I changed addresses. Argh! The agony!